Design Statement


Karaka Eco Park is a unique opportunity to showcase sustainable food production based on the learnings from natural ecosystems. Designing and producing food with and not against natural systems and our environment. An inspirational 3km tour through restored native bush and wetlands will be a precursor to show examples of sustainable food production in a food forest and aquaponic greenhouse.

The site is located in Karaka, traditionally dominated by agriculture, horse enthusiasts, professional stud farms and more recently lifestyle blocks. Karaka Eco Park will be a unique education and conservation destination. The existing site is approximately 80 hectares, with the lower half being land of low productivity, subject to salt inundation and historically only suitable for summer grazing. This lower half is where the proposed eco park will be established.

Design Approach

The proposed 47 hectare lower half of the existing site will illustrate the natural environmental gradient across this portion of the site. From naturally functioning wetlands, lowland forest, riparian planting, a naturalised stream and remnant indigenous coastal vegetation. With over 20 hectares of new native planting, this project will have enormous benefit to local flora and fauna.

The story of the site is integral to the design and its ability as an educational platform. The entrance at 55 Harkness Road will take you through native lowland forest before arriving at the ‘Restored Farmhouse’ (labelled ‘3’ on Education Facility map). This farm house pays tribute to the agricultural past of the site and its region. From here visitors have a number of options to explore natural systems.

The loop track (labelled ’26’ on Education Facility map) takes visitors along coastal riparian planting down to coastal wetland, where the existing birdlife will have an opportunity to flourish in what will become a bird sanctuary. Following the loop track back towards the centre of the site, visitors have a chance to experience a naturalised stream. Along this environmental gradient (where fresh water and salt water meet) a possible whitebait spawning platform is identified. With improved habitat the whitebait will add to the story and education of the site.

This loop track will illustrate natural systems at work and forms a critical parallel with the food production through aquaponics in the greenhouses, showcased on the site (labelled ’13’ on Education Facility map). Aquaponics is a sustainable method of growing plants where fish, plants and bacteria live in a harmonious cycle supporting each other. The restored naturalised stream (labelled ’20’ Education Facility map) illustrates how natural systems operate and how the ideas from nature can be applied to food production.

The second option for visitors from the ‘Restored Farmhouse’ is a ‘Native Bushwalk’ (labelled ’16’ on Education Facility map). This illustrates an entirely different cross section of the environment, flora and fauna on the site. Walking through lowland forest, visitors cross into wetland (labelled 17 on Education Facility map)

The aquaponics food growing facility will also be open to tours, educating people on its sustainable methods and environmental benefits.

Typical conceptual waterways section